Komoro,Ueda,Sanada and Kakuma Gorge (小諸、上田、真田、角間渓谷)

From May 24 to 25, My wife and I went to Kakuma Gorge which is well known as an out-of-the-way hot spring and was once used by the Sanada clan. The gorge is surrounded by high-rise rocks and the access road is narrow and winding. We stayed at Iwaya Ryokan( Japanese style inn) at the gorge which is the only inn in the area, and enjoyed full-scale outdoor hot bath and delicious dishes such as local river fishes and vegetables.
On the way to the gorge, I visited Komoro Castle and Ueda Castle. Komoro Castle (小諸城) is located in the city of Komoro, central Nagano Prefecture. At the end of the Edo period, Komoro Castle was home to a junior branch of the Makino clan, daimyo of Komoro Domain. It was also known as Ana-shiro (穴城) which is located in a place that is lower than the town area. Today, it is open to public as Kaikoen(懐古園).
Ueda Castle (上田城) is located in Ueda City near Komoro City. At the end of the Edo period, Ueda Castle was home to a branch of the Matsudaira clan of Ueda Domain, but the castle is better known for its association with the Sengoku period Sanada(真田)clan.

Komoro (小諸) is a city located in Nagano Prefecture. The city population is about 40 thousand now. In Komoro,  potato , soba, apple, and peach are popular. Komoro has many soba noodle restaurants and apple orchards. The city is also known for miso(Japanese seasoning made from fermented soybeans).
Ueda (上田) is located 15  km west of Komoro City. The city population is about 160 thousand. Ueda is located in former Shinano Province and during the Nara period was the provincial capital. The ruins of the Shinano Kokubunji(信濃国分寺)are also to be found within Ueda. However, the provincial capital was moved to Matsumoto during the early Heian period. During the Sengoku period, the area was the center of the powerful Sanada clan. 
 During the Edo period, Ueda was a castle town and headquarters of Ueda Domain controlled by the Tokugawa shogunate. Ueda is a regional commercial center with a mixed agricultural and light industrial economy such as automobile components and electronics manufacturing. The main crops include rice, apples, grapes, cabbage and walnuts. The traditional industry of Ueda was cotton-weaving.